- Fiction, period piece, young adult
- Warnings: This is kind of similar to what I wrote for Austenland. If you don’t like it when an author uses material from a previously published story that wasn’t theirs, then this book isn’t for you.
From the publisher:
“Henry Jekyll was a brilliant doctor, a passionate idealist who aimed to free mankind of selfishness and vice. He’s also the man who carelessly created a race of monsters. Once shared secretly among the good doctor’s inner circle, the Hyde drug was smuggled into mass-production – but in pill form, it corrupted its users at the genetic level, leaving them liable to transform without warning. A quarter of the population are now clandestine killers – ticking bombs that could detonate at any given moment. It’s 1903, and London has been quarantined for thirteen years. Son of the city’s most prominent physician and cure-seeker, seventeen-year-old Elliot Morrissey has had his own devastating brush with science, downing a potion meant to remove his human weaknesses and strengthen him against the Hydes – and finding instead he’s become an empath, leveled by the emotions of a dying city. He finds an unlikely ally in Iris Faye, a waitress at one of the city’s rowdier music halls, whose emotions nearly blind him; her fearlessness is a beacon in a city rife with terror. Iris, however, is more than what she seems, and reveals a mission to bring down the establishment that has crippled the people of London. Together, they aim to discover who’s really pulling the strings in Jekyll’s wake, and why citizens are waking up in the street infected, with no memory of ever having taken the Hyde drug… Heart-eating monsters, it turns out, are not the greatest evil they must face.”
I’m a sucker for using a classic story and drawing inspiration from it to make something new and that can honor the spirit of the original story. That is probably why I picked up The Heartless City which took inspiration from The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde. I thought the idea of London being under quarantine because of the mysterious Hyde drug that was created after Dr. Jekyll’s tale was an interesting continuation off the original story. The book starts at the beginning of the quarantine and the image the reader has of the setting is very dark and ominous, a great start to a book called the Heartless City. However, that’s as far as it gets.
Don’t get me wrong. The book wasn’t horrible. Not at all. The plot was pretty solid. What felt like a let down for me was the plot’s predictability and lack of really going deep with the characters. After the first chapter it was sometimes painfully obvious what was going to occur next. From the very beginning, you already know who the actual bad guy is and can accurately guess the motive (which wasn’t that complicated at all aka POWER mwahahah!). I kept hoping that at some point in the story there was going to be a “GOTCHA!” moment for the reader where the things that I thought were totally obvious would just flip and the unexpected would happen. It didn’t. I felt like the further I read the more the plot and this amazing idea of the book was watered down, with not much time to develop and overall being played too safe.
The characters were another issue for me. The two main protagonist and their friends were likable but I didn’t fall in love with them. I felt that the characters in general were very one dimensional especially the villain. I mean, throughout the book there’s talk about trying to separate good from evil or weakness from strength. With topics and the beginnings of themes like that, the characters (and again the plot) could have been much more richer personality-wise than they were. Here are the good guys: the character who just wants their parent’s approval; the character that just wants to love whomever they want to love; the character who wants to break free from tradition and the expectations of their family; and the character who has a cold outward appearance but a heart of gold. Are these character tropes generally bad? No, but I definitely felt Andrea Berthot could have given the characters – the heroes and the villains a bit of a twist.
Overall, I liked the book. It was a nice read. The cover is beautiful. I just wish Berthot would have gone deeper with the plot and the characters and build more upon the world that Robert Louis Stevenson created.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
What do you guys think? Have you read The Heartless City already? Have any other book suggestions that I should add to my Saturday Reading List? Leave your thoughts behind in the comments. Just be respectful please.